Study Assesses Relief Options Against Shingles Pain
- Study Assesses Relief Options Against Shingles Pain
The painkiller oxycodone is effective at treating the acute pain of shingles, an illness that often causes severe pain which can become long-lasting and sometimes even permanent.
The study, published in the April issue of the journal Pain, is one of the first to carefully evaluate different methods to relieve pain during a course of shingles, which many patients say causes the worst pain they have ever experienced. Effective pain treatment is crucial. Not only can the pain of shingles disrupt peoples quality of life, but it is also possible that the less effectively the pain is treated, the more likely it will become a long-term problem that can change a persons life forever.
Shingles is caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the same bug that causes chicken pox, and only people who have had chicken pox are vulnerable to shingles. About 20 to 30 percent of people will get shingles at some point in their lives the odds climb to 50 percent for people who live to the age of 85.
For most patients, the first symptom of the infection is pain, quickly followed by a rash where the pain first appeared. The rash appears most often on one side of the chest or face, oftentimes causing dozens of small pimple-sized lesions. Some patients also get flu-like symptoms like a headache and lethargy. The illness usually lasts about three or four weeks.
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What Are The Complications Of Shingles
Symptoms of shingles usually dont last longer than 3 to 5 weeks. However, complications can happen. The main complications that can result from shingles include:
- Postherpetic neuralgia . The most common complication of shingles is called postherpetic neuralgia . This continuous, chronic pain lasts even after the skin lesions have healed. The pain may be severe in the area where the blisters were present. The affected skin may be very sensitive to heat and cold. If you had severe pain during the active rash or have impaired senses, you are at increased risk for PHN. The elderly are also at greater risk. Early treatment of shingles may prevent PHN. Pain relievers and steroid treatment may be used to treat the pain and inflammation. Other treatments include antiviral drugs, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and topical agents.
- Bacterial infection. A bacterial infection of the skin where the rash happens is another complication. Rarely, infections can lead to more problems, such as tissue death and scarring. When an infection happens near or on the eyes, a corneal infection can happen. This can lead to temporary or permanent blindness.
Articles On Shingles Treatment
The virus that causes chickenpox is also what causes shingles. Itâs called varicella zoster. It can lie quietly in your nerves for decades after causing chickenpox but suddenly wake up and become active.
The main symptom of shingles is a painful rash that comes up on one side of your body or face. See your doctor as soon as you can if you think you might have this condition.
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Can Shingles Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent shingles is through vaccination. Vaccinate your children for chickenpox. This vaccine reduces their risk for getting chickenpox. You cant get shingles unless youve had chickenpox first.
When you are older, get the shingles vaccine. It is recommended for adults 50 years of age and older. It can prevent shingles. People who have had shingles should get the vaccine to help stop the disease from reoccurring. Common side effects of the vaccine are headache, plus redness, swelling, itching, and soreness at the injection site.
The shingles vaccine is not recommended for anyone who:
- Has had an allergic reaction to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin
- Has an allergy to any component of the shingles vaccine
- Has a weakened immune system due to conditions such as leukemia, HIV, or AIDS
- Is receiving treatment for cancer
- Is being treated with drugs that suppress their immune system, including high-dose steroids
- Is pregnant or might become pregnant within 4 weeks of getting the vaccine
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How To Use Famciclovir
This medication works best when started at the first sign of an outbreak, as directed by your doctor. It may not work as well if you delay treatment.
The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.
This medication works best when the amount of drug in your body is kept at a constant level. Take this drug at evenly spaced intervals. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day.
Continue to take this medication until the full prescribed amount is finished. Do not change your dose, skip any doses, or stop this medication early without your doctor’s approval.
Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.
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Treatment Of Herpes Zoster
The treatment of herpes zoster has three major objectives: treatment of the acute viral infection, treatment of the acute pain associated with herpes zoster and prevention of postherpetic neuralgia. Antiviral agents, oral corticosteroids and adjunctive individualized pain-management modalities are used to achieve these objectives.
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Over The Counter Treatment For Shingles
Over the counter treatment for shingles involves the use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen.
Over the counter treatment for shingles involves the use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen.
Shingles is a skin problem that is typically caused by the infection of herpes zoster virus. People who have had a history of chickenpox are the ones who actually develop this infection. This is because the reason behind the onset of chickenpox and shingles is no different. The virus that triggers chickenpox symptoms is the one that strikes again to cause shingles, and is typically marked by the development of an itchy rash, usually in the chest and the upper back area. The blisters forming a band like pattern is the characteristic feature of a shingles rash. The affected area typically causes radiating pain that generally lasts till the duration of the viral infection. The infection generally goes within a months time, but how does one make the pain more manageable during this time is often a cause for concern for all shingles patients. The answer to this question is discussed below:
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Spinal Cord Or Peripheral Nerve Stimulation
These are often used to treat several different types of neuropathic pain. Electrodes are placed underneath the skin along the affected peripheral nerves. Before using this technique, doctors will do a test using a wire electrode to get a sense of how the patient will respond.
After the electrodes have been placed above the peripheral nerve, a weak electrical current is sent to the nerve. By stimulating a sensory pathway that doesnt cause pain, experts believe that this electrical signal to the brain can trick the brain into turning off the painful signal, bringing relief to the patient.
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Who Should Get The Shingles Vaccine
Getting the shingles vaccine is the only way to reduce the risk of developing shingles and to lessen the risk of postherpetic neuralgia.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved recombinant zoster vaccine, known as Shingrix, for adults ages 50 years old and older in 2017. In July 2021, the FDA also approved Shingrix for adults ages 18 years old and older who are or will be at increased risk of herpes zoster due to immunodeficiency or immunosuppression caused by disease or therapy, according to a press release issued by Shingrix manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline . In October 2021, the CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also voted to recommend Shingrix in adults 19 and older who are or will be immunodeficient or immunosuppressed due to disease or therapy, according to a press release issued by GSK.
Shingrix is given as two shots that are two to six months apart.
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This smooth, non-greasy lubricant doesnt contain any active pain-relieving ingredients. Instead, its designed to act as a friction-reducer for massages â another tactic for soothing tight, overworked muscles.
Use the hypoallergenic, fragrance-free cream on your hands to get a deeper rub on areas like your knees, feet or wrists, or hand the jar to your partner or friend for help with your back, shoulders or neck.
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You Can Prevent Shingles
The good news is that you can avoid this misery entirely by getting a fairly new vaccine thats proving to be highly effective. There has actually been a shingles vaccine since 2006, but the first incarnation, Zostavax, only prevented shingles in about 50% of people. Plus, Zostavax was made from live viruses so people with compromised immune systems couldnt get it even though they are the ones most at risk for shingles.
The new vaccine, Shingrix, available since 2017, does not use live viruses in its formulation so its safer and has been found to be more than 90% effective. Shingrix is whats known as an adjuvanted vaccine, meaning it has extra ingredients that help create a stronger immune response. A booster shot may be needed eventually, but experts currently estimate the vaccine provides protection for at least seven years. Its available for adults age 50 and up and requires two doses given between two and six months apart.
On the slim chance you do get shingles after being vaccinated, the illness will be much milder and you will be less likely to develop PHN.
Who Is At Risk Of Getting Shingles
Shingles typically affects older people, but it can also occur in healthy younger persons and even in children. Those whose immune systems have been weakened by cancer, HIV infection, AIDS, or treatment with certain medicines are also at increased risk of getting shingles.
- Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of getting shingles later in life. About 1 in 3 people who have not been immunised against chickenpox or shingles will get shingles in their lifetime.
- Shingles usually affects older people. The older you are if you get shingles, the higher your risk of getting serious disease. People who have a weakened immune system are also at risk of getting more severe disease, even if they are young.
- Women have a higher risk of getting shingles than men.
- Most people who develop shingles have only 1 episode during their lifetime. However, you can have shingles more than once.
An attack of shingles during pregnancy will not harm the unborn baby. The mother is already carrying the varicella zoster virus before developing shingles and there is no increase in the risk of passing it on to the fetus if shingles develops. However, an attack of chickenpox during pregnancy can be serious and requires urgent medical attention.
Other Treatments For Shingles
Medications for pain relief may be required. These may be either over the counter or prescription drugs, depending on the severity of the pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may help some people, while others may require narcotic pain medications. Nonmedical treatments for shingles and home remedies include the use of cool compresses to relieve pain and anti-itching lotions like calamine lotion. Aluminum acetate solutions can help dry up the blisters. Additionally, different medications have been used to control the pain of postherpetic neuralgia, including tricyclic antidepressantsand antiseizure medications. Topical agents that can help relieve the pain of postherpetic neuralgia include capsaicin cream and lidocaine patches.
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Oral Pain Relief Medicines
e.g. paracetamol , aspirin ibuprofen
e.g. paracetamol, ibuprofen diclofenac , naproxen
- paracetamol, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories , which include ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen, relieve pain and reduce fever
- paracetamol is a safe choice for most people, but it is important not to take more than recommended. Paracetamol is an ingredient in many cold and flu remedies, so be careful not to double dose
- the maximum daily dose of paracetamol for an adult is 4 g , and no more than 1 g every 4 hours.
- aspirin and NSAIDs are not suitable for everyone. Children under 16 years old must not take aspirin because it can cause Reyes syndrome, which is a serious condition. It should also be avoided by adolescents under 16 years old who have a viral illness
- check with your pharmacist before taking aspirin or NSAIDs if you:
- have a history of stomach problems, such as ulcers or indigestion
- have asthma some asthmatics find their condition is made worse by these types of medicines
- have kidney problems or a heart condition
- take other medications
- have bleeding or bruising problems
- have an allergy to aspirin or NSAIDs
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
- are elderly you may be at more risk of side effects
- are due to have any type of surgery within the next couple of days
Skin Care And Itch Relief For Shingles
To relieve itching and discomfort, try:
- A cool, wet compresses on the affected skin
- Soothing baths and lotions, such as colloidal oatmeal bath, starch baths, or calamine lotion
- Zostrix, a cream that contains capsaicin
- Antihistamines to reduce itching
Keep your skin clean. Throw away bandages you use to cover your skin sores. Throw away or wash in hot water clothing that has contact with your skin sores. Wash your sheets and towels in hot water.
While your skin sores are still open and oozing, avoid all contact with anyone who has never had chickenpox, especially pregnant women.
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Treat Your Body And Mind
You can get worn down mentally when youâre in constant pain. Stress can make it seem even worse. Self-care starts with treating your rash, but donât stop there. Your mind and emotional state need to be cared for as well.
5. Stick with good habits: Your bodyâs working hard to fight the varicella-zoster virus that causes shingles. To give it the right support, you can:
- Eat nutritious food and have regular meals. Ask someone to make a run to the grocery store for fresh fruit and such if youâre not up for it.
- Try to get a good nightâs sleep and rest anytime you need to.
- Do gentle exercises, such as walking or stretching. Light activity can help take your mind off the pain. Keep it simple though, and check with your doctor if youâre trying something new.
6. Distract yourself: Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to put your focus elsewhere. Here are a few things to try:
Recovery From Eye Shingles
Recovery time varies by patient and the specific case, Rapuano says. If the inflammation is mild and the treatment is pretty aggressive, then symptoms may start getting better within days, he says.
At some point, the optician may try to slowly wean the patient off steroids. But a recurrence of inflammation may signal a need to keep using steroid eye drops.
Many patients will need to be on low-dose steroids for years, if not forever, Rapuano says.
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What Are The Best Over
As mentioned above, antiviral medications are prescription medications. Therefore, over-the-counter creams do not provide any antiviral activity, but they primarily work to relieve redness, pain, and itching symptoms. Topical creams containing lidocaine, capsaicin, or calamine may be helpful. Alternative treatments that can be topically applied include witch hazel cream, essential oils, manuka or clover honey, and chlorophyll. It is advised that you check with your doctor to make sure that these will not interact negatively with your existing medication before applying them.
If Home Remedies Fail There Are Medical Treatments
A healthcare professional may prescribe oral anti-viral medication, which you’ll take for seven to 10 days, said Dr. Strowd. They might also prescribe oral or topical medications to help ease any pain.
While shingles is not super contagious to your average, healthy person, it can pose a risk if you’re pregnant, have never had chickenpox or the vaccine, are an older adult, or have a compromised immune system.
Try to avoid contact with those vulnerable groups until your rash forms a scab, as the virus usually spreads through the blister fluid, and keep it covered with a bandage, said Dr. Strowd.
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Preventing The Virus Spreading
If you have the shingles rash, do not share towels or flannels, go swimming, or play contact sports. This will help prevent the virus being passed on to someone who has not had chickenpox.
You should also avoid work or school if your rash is weeping and cannot be covered.
Chickenpox can be particularly dangerous for certain groups of people. If you have shingles, avoid:
- women who are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before as they could catch it from you, which may harm their unborn baby
- people who have a weak immune system, such as someone with HIV or AIDS
- babies less than one month old, unless it is your own baby, in which case your baby should have antibodies to protect them from the virus
Once your blisters have dried and scabbed over, you are no longer contagious and will not need to avoid anyone.
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